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Grass Valley — the Best of Both Worlds

The Digital Industry in Nevada County Started with Grass Valley Group

The cluster of companies that manufacture products for the digital industry in Nevada County (formerly known as “video”) all owe their existence to one company that started here in 1959 – Grass Valley Group. Grass Valley creates tools and solutions that empower broadcasters to create, control and connect digital content in whatever form it is consumed. The company started with a handful of engineers and has been through several iterations over the past 58 years. It employed 1500 residents of Nevada County at its peak, and has spawned most, if not all, of the other “video” companies in the area. The company is now owned by Belden Wire in St. Louis, Missouri and is known today as Grass Valley, a Belden Brand.

A world-class company in a beautiful location

When Dr. Donald Hare started the Grass Valley Group, he wasn’t intending to build a video empire – he was just tired of East Coast winters and wanted to live in his beloved Sierra Foothills. Today, Grass Valley employees get the best of both worlds – they live in and work in a peaceful place surrounded by natural beauty, and they get to work for a world-class company. Grass Valley competes with companies like Sony, and is responsible for the broadcast of events as large and important as the Super Bowl. Steve Baures, the 46-year-old Senior Director of the Grass Valley Tech Center, is proud to work for Grass Valley: “You get to see the results of your work — every weekend if you are watching a football game,” he said. “Half the time you tell people you are doing something for the Super Bowl, they think you are full of it.”

Grass Valley a Belden Brand was the beginning of the digital industry in Nevada County.
Grass Valley a Belden Brand was the beginning of the digital industry in Nevada County.

Despite the high-profile clients, Grass Valley gets plenty of independence from their parent company. Mike Boucke, a 44-year-old Product Owner, appreciates the trust and respect they get from Belden: “There is a lot of trust – we are not a micromanaged site,” he said. “Belden lets us do our work and lets us succeed. When you watch TV, you know it’s working.”

What do you do when you’re not commuting?

One of the best parts of working for Grass Valley is working *in* Grass Valley. For Tim Walker, a 38-year old Senior Product Manager, the lack of a commute lets him focus on the important things, like his 2-year-old daughter. “I went home on my lunch break and was able to see my newly born daughter make some of her first intentional moves,” he said. Baures feels the same way – he prefers to spend the time he is not in the car in the outdoors: “I’m adverse to spending four hours in my car,” he said. “In Grass Valley you can get off work at 6pm and go jump in the river, go on a bike ride, or a hike. I do just about every outdoor activity you can name.”

But how does it compare to working for a start-up in the Bay Area?

Working for a start-up in the Bay Area is exciting, but there are disadvantages as well. The workplace atmosphere for the digital industry in Nevada County is overall less stressful and less competitive. Employees feel valued and taken care of, because local companies have a hard time attracting employees from outside the area and want to keep the ones they have. Remington Maxwell, a 23-year-old Software Engineer, started as an intern at Grass Valley and decided to stay because she felt respected and enjoyed seeing the impact that her work was making. In an industry that is still dominated by men, she sees other advantages to working for the company. “I wouldn’t be treated as equally at a start-up in Silicon Valley,” she said.

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